There are all sorts of reasons why a ferment (like sauerkraut, kimchi or fruit wine) may not ‘work.’
In my estimation, here’s the most common reasons why fermenting fails:
- Your room is too hot. If the temperature is nearing 80 degrees of higher, fermenting can be a challenge. Spaces like the top of your fridge or above your stove can be a few degrees higher than the rest of your kitchen; be aware of ‘micro climates’ that can be warmer (or cooler) than your average room temperature.
- Your room is too cold. If it’s under the mid-60s fermenting can struggle.
- Your water isn’t pure. Water with chlorine or chloramine will generally kill any good bacteria and prevent fermenting. Chlorine can be boiled off or evaporated; chloramine can’t.
- Your jars aren’t cleaned/ rinsed properly. If you left soap or disinfectant in the jar, it can prevent fermenting.
- Your starter or yeast (if using either) was dead before using.
- The liquid or jar was too hot when it mixed with starter or wild yeasts and killed the good bacteria and prevented fermenting.
- Your salt is iodized. I’ve never had this problem but iodized salt can prevent fermenting.
- You’ve used too much salt (it can prevent a ferment).
- You haven’t waited long enough. In this case it’s not really a ‘problem’ – but a few days of waiting can make a difference.
- You’re expecting a volcano but sometimes it’s more subtle. Some of my ferments barely bubble or only bubble when stirred.